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Best On-Demand Streaming TV Providers in Customer Satisfaction 2020

The people have spoken—find out which on-demand streaming TV services the US can't get get enough of.

Breaking from our 2019 model of covering only livestreaming TV in our survey, we’ve set on-demand streaming apart in its own spotlight this year. Most people think of on demand as “streaming,” or just “TV,” anyway, so why not? If you’re part of a generation that’s never had to wonder where you’re going to find a show that aired last night, you know what we mean.

After this, we’d recommend also scanning our 2020 Internet Customer Satisfaction Survey. No matter the service, buffering is bad, and your streaming experience will be only as good as your internet connection. It’s possible that you could get faster (and even cheaper) internet service in your area—have a look.

Best on-demand streaming TV providers in customer satisfaction 2020

Disney+—Best overall
Disney+—Best original content
Amazon Prime Video—Best add-on channels

Disney+—Best reliability
Disney+—Best user experience
Disney+—Best value

Methodology

We surveyed on-demand streaming customers to find out how they’re liking their services in 2020. As with our Livestreaming TV Customer Satisfaction Survey, the numbers were close, with no single service pulling far ahead of the pack.

One on-demand streaming newcomer did make an impressive showing—but we won’t keep you in suspense for much longer.

Survey questions

Our lines of query were pretty clear-cut: Does your on-demand service give you everything you want? Does it work when you need it? Do you love it, or simply live with it? These are the questions we asked:

  • How satisfied are you with your streaming service overall?
  • How satisfied are you with your streaming service’s original content?
  • Do you pay for any add-on channels or packs with your streaming service?
  • How satisfied are you with the reliability of your streaming service (buffering, frozen shows, loading failures, etc.)?
  • How satisfied are you with your streaming service’s user experience (on-screen channel guide, on-demand menu, suggested content, etc.)?
  • In your experience, rate your streaming service’s overall value.
  • What device(s) do you use to stream on the most?

Overall customer satisfaction

The big reveal: it’s been online only since December 2019, but the streaming people are way into Disney+.

Best overall customer satisfaction

#1 overall
  • Excellent on-demand library
  • Easy-to-use interface

With a massive content library and a tiny price tag, it’s no real surprise that Disney+ topped our polls. How do you compete with Star Wars, Marvel, and The Simpsons? The new service HBO® Max may have an answer, but it launched after we took our survey—2021 could be anyone’s game.

The second-place showing for Disney’s corporate cousin Hulu is a reminder of how far it’s come from its early years as a Netflix wannabe, and the third slot for ESPN+ is also telling. Is it just a coincidence that Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ can be bundled together for just $12.99? Probably not.

As for original streaming behemoth Netflix dropping to number four . . . was it the cancellation of Fuller House, or the ongoing existence of Fuller House? We think it could go either way.

Our best guess for Prime Video’s low ranking is its infamously aggravating interface—which was recently tweaked, to little improvement. Prime Video may have a lot of content, but navigating it is no picnic.

Lack of content is likely the problem with Apple TV+. We really, really, like Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet, but where to go after that? There are around only 30 shows and movies on Apple TV+, and they’re not all winners. Have you watched See? No? Lucky you.

You’ve seen what the customers think. Now find out what our experts say in our review of the best streaming services.

Original content

How satisfied are you with your streaming service’s original content?

Best original content

#1 for original content
  • Classic Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, and Nat Geo content
  • So-so Disney+ originals

Baby Yoda for the win! Even though the ostensible star of The Mandalorian is the Mandalorian, Baby Yoda became the adorable face (and meme) of Disney+ overnight. Just wait until the Marvel series, like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and WandaVision, arrive later this year.

HBO NOW in second place is no shocker—it’s HBO, the premium network. It is a bit surprising to see Netflix just barely edge out ESPN+, though, as ESPN+ has only a fraction of Netflix’s original content. Maybe quantity isn’t king, after all.

CableTV.com tip: Check the shows

With all of the on-demand streaming services out there, it’s easy to get confused over which one produces what.

You could sign up for Netflix to watch Solar Opposites, only to find out later that it’s a Hulu series. Maybe you were thinking of The Midnight Gospel—they’re both weird and colorful at first glance, after all. Always look for your shows before you subscribe.

Add-on channel options

Do you pay for any add-on channels or packs with your streaming service? How satisfied are you with your streaming service’s add-on channel options?

Most likely to have add-on channels

37% of customers paid for add-on channels
  • Premium channel add-ons
  • Spanish-language add-ons

Only two of our contenders offer add-on channels: Hulu and Prime Video. Hulu offers HBO, CINEMAX®, SHOWTIME®, and STARZ®, as well as multichannel lifestyle and Spanish packages, while Prime Video carries all of those and many more.

Best add-on channel options

#1 for add-on channels
  • Hundreds of add-on channels
  • Add-on billing through Amazon

It’s tough to beat Prime Video’s add-on channel selection—this is a case where quantity really is king. By our count, there are over 100 channels that can be added to Prime Video, ranging from the lowbrow horror of Shudder to the highbrow drama of PBS Masterpiece.

CableTV.com tip: Count your add-ons

Add-on channels are convenient, but they’re not necessarily cheaper than standalone services. If you’re not careful, add-ons can add up. Don’t be distracted by dazzling content offers—keep track of the boxes you check and keep more of your money.

Reliability

How satisfied are you with the reliability of your streaming service (buffering, frozen screens, loading failures, etc.)?

Best reliability

#1 reliability
  • 4K and HD resolution
  • Solid picture quality

It was a squeaker between the Big 4 here, with only single digits separating the performance rankings of Disney+, HBO NOW, Netflix, and CBS All Access.

Despite some launch glitches, Disney+ rose to the top—and this survey was taken before it fixed the aspect ratio on old Simpsons episodes. This obviously wasn’t a factor, but we’re still going to be nerds about it.

CableTV.com tip: Plug in an Ethernet cable

Wi-Fi is convenient, but the best way to avoid pixilization and lagging while streaming TV is to connect your device and your internet router with an Ethernet cable.

But if you don’t want extra cords, try upgrading your Wi-Fi router. We have some recommendations for the fastest gear available.

User experience

How satisfied are you with your streaming service’s user experience (menus, suggested content, etc.)?

Best user experience

#1 for user experience
  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Few playback issues

Obviously, Disney+ got a lot of things right upfront (not counting The Simpsons snafu, of course). Its clean, simple interface is a breeze for kids and adults alike to browse—Disney knows its audience, for sure.

Hulu was a surprise in second place, as this survey was taken before its recent streamlined menu makeover. Maybe Hulu’s improvements will help it displace Disney+ next year (spoiler: we doubt it).

CableTV.com tip: Free trials are your friend

Don’t forget that you can take any of these streaming services for a free test drive—some for up to 30 days. We recommend taking as much time as is available to get to know a service before committing. We’re not saying it’s like dating . . . but we kind of are.

Value

In your experience, rate your streaming service’s overall value.

Best value

#1 value
  • Excellent on-demand library
  • Cheap pricing

OK, OK, we get it—our survey respondents love Disney+. It’s hard to argue with $6.99 a month, though.

Interestingly, Apple TV+ ranked at the bottom for value. Sure, it doesn’t have much content, but it’s only $4.99 a month—and you probably already have it free for a year if you’ve bought an Apple product in the past few months. Didn’t know that? Check your receipts.

Cable TV.com tip: You can stream almost anywhere

Unlike traditional TV services like cable, streaming is available wherever you can get a Wi-Fi or mobile signal. If you’re constantly on the go or move residences frequently, streaming services (which are usually contract-free) are a simple solution.

Streaming devices

What device(s) do you use to stream on the most?

Dedicated streaming devices and smart TVs are still the most popular ways to get on-demand entertainment, but mobile devices (tablets, phones, etc.) are catching up—especially with Disney+ and Apple TV+ subscribers. Laptops and gaming consoles show low numbers overall, unless you’re into ESPN+.

CableTV.com tip: Match your devices and apps

Not every on-demand streaming service is compatible with every device. You can’t get Disney+, Prime Video, HBO NOW, or Apple TV+ on Nintendo consoles, for example, and Hulu won’t work with PlayStation models prior to PS4.

Also, though it launched after our survey was taken, it’s worth noting that HBO Max isn’t yet available to Roku or Amazon Fire TV users, even though HBO NOW is. Not cool, Max.

Our final take

We’re way past “streaming TV is the future” now. It’s here, and there are more choices than ever (although we wouldn’t count on Quibi sticking around long enough to make our survey next year).

To sum up, here’s what we like about these on-demand streaming services:

      • Disney+ is great for families and doesn’t make a huge dent in the budget.
      • Hulu curates increasingly excellent original content and next-day network shows.
      • ESPN+ isn’t as all-inclusive as ESPN, but it does sports docs, MMA, and soccer well.
      • Netflix still reigns in sheer content quantity and scores critical hits consistently.

Keep streaming—we’ll see you here again in 2021.

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